A FAMILIAR face will be missing from the high street in Newcastle Emlyn as coronavirus lockdown rules are relaxed.

Martin’s Decorating Centre at Sycamore Street has hung up its brushes for the final time with the well-earned retirement of owner Martin Evans after 42 years in business.

“I opened the shop in 1978 and I have been there ever since,” said Martin, who will be 70 in December.

“It seems strange retiring at this time and in such a difficult situation but I will leave with a lot of fond memories. It has not always been easy but it has been enjoyable.

“You are never going to make a fortune on the high street in Newcastle Emlyn but there is more to life than money and I have been happy there and have a lot of fond memories.

“I have met so many lovely people and have many loyal customers and wish I could have stayed but it is now time to retire. I will miss the companionship and the chats with people, along with the day-to-day running of the business.”

During his time on the high street, Martin has seen many other businesses come and go.

“It’s sad when shops don’t survive but the retail trade is not easy for the small, independent shops.

“The big multiples have affected trade, online shopping has made a big difference as has parking in town,” said Martin, who has lived with wife Ann all his life in the town, apart from a year away working in London.

“I preferred the country life and when I came back I started out as a sales rep and then had the opportunity to open a paint and wallpaper shop and the rest, as they say, is history.”

As well as being a familiar face behind his shop counter, Martin will be also known to many over the years as a local football referee.

He started out locally and worked his way through the Welsh pyramid system, finally ending up as a Football League and FIFA linesman for 10 years, covering around 250 matches.

That gave him the chance to visit 21 different countries and officiate in important matches at some of the most famous stadiums in the world.

He was a linesman at the 1995 First Division play-off final at Wembley between Bolton and Reading, while he also officiated in high-profile European games between Barcelona and Lech Poznan at the Nou Camp and at the Olympic Stadium in Athens for a match between Panathinaikos and Juventus.

“I still love my football but I don’t really follow the Premiership. I like the smaller teams and am looking forward to watching more matches when it finally resumes,” added Martin.

“I also love Jersey in the Channel Islands and would like to go back there.”